Creative Journaling Toolkit – Introduction: When to journal

When you journal will depend on your lifestyle and when you have free time. Pre-baby, I used to journal first thing in the morning before work. Now, I journal during nap times or at the start of my weekly scheduled work-time, when bub is with the babysitter. In an ideal world (and hopefully someday in the not-too-distant future) I would journal first thing each day.

Here is how I used to journal and plan on journaling again when time (and baby) allows.

Journaling in the morning

I love to journal first thing in the morning. I am not a morning person and never imagined I could be one. Even now I’m not exactly eager to get up in the morning. But it takes a lot to make me miss my morning journaling session.

I journal in the morning because it is time alone for myself, that I have carved out of the day, before anyone else is awake.

I get up at 6am, which gives me about 45 minutes alone with a cup of coffee, my journal, my music and my thoughts. There is nothing else to think about at that time (I always set an alarm so I can just write freely without worrying about when I need to stop to get ready for work).

After a few sips of coffee I’m usually awake and alert enough. I’ve tried to journal before bed in the evenings, but by the time I get home from work, walk the dog, make dinner, do the dishes, have a shower and pack my bag for the next day, I usually have little energy left to do anything but just read or go to bed. I’m often too tired to sit down and feel inspired.

In the morning I’m fresh, without the worries of the day yet weighing on my mind, without my body feeling tired.

I am a channel for inspiration, for creativity. It’s still and silent, warm and comfortable. I find that because I really want to journal, getting up early to do so isn’t a struggle. On the days when I feel tempted to hit snooze, I realise that if I don’t journal that I will miss that precious and delicious time that is all my own for a whole day. Most of the time, I don’t want to miss that.

It also sets me up for the day. I start the day deliberately, by choice, doing something I love. What I used to do was hit snooze a bunch of times then get up at the last possible minute, angry that I had to go to work, and race around throwing clothes on and gulping down breakfast before dashing out the door.

Now my day starts slowly and it fuels my feelings of creativity and inspiration for the whole day ahead.

It means I get off to a good start, every day. On several occasions I’ve found myself smiling happily while getting ready for work after journaling, saying to my partner, ‘I used to hate mornings but now I love them.’ I think he is just as shocked as me.

I like to make a ritual out my journaling sessions. I always make a cup of coffee, burn some lavender oil and listen to whatever music is inspiring me at the time on Spotify. I always sit in my favourite chair, with a lovely warm blanket and a gorgeous crochet cushion in my lap that I got from a thrift store. This is good to lean my journal on as I write. I have books, crystals, inspiration cards and other things around me that make me feel inspired as I write. I’ve created a lovely little space that just lifts me when I write there.

I urge you to try journaling in the morning for a couple of weeks and see how you feel. Make sure you get up with enough time to make a cup of coffee (or tea, or whatever) first. Make it a ritual – find a spot you’re comfortable, surround yourself with things that lift you and inspire you.

Can’t journal in the morning?

Journal whenever you can, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.

When I changed jobs and had to spend all my mornings sitting in traffic (which ruled out the option of journaling before work at home because it would have meant getting up at like 5am and that’s insane) I would journal in my car once I got through the traffic, or I’d write while sitting in still traffic at lights that barely moved.

Now, I journal during Baxter’s 30 minute naps, or while he plays with his toys, or after dinner. These are not my ideal journaling scenarios, but I still make time to show up at the page.

When Bax was really small and I felt like I barely got 5 minutes to myself, I made an arrangement with my partner where I could go to a cafe with my journal on Monday nights for a couple hours while he was in charge. I’m certain that taking that uninterrupted time to journal every Monday night meant that I didn’t get post-natal depression.

When will you journal?

Take a few minutes now to think about when you can journal. When is a good time during the day? Here are some possibilities:

  • First thing in the morning with your coffee
  • During your lunch break, sitting in the park
  • In your car while waiting for the kids to finish school
  • At the kitchen table while dinner cooks
  • After dinner with the TV on in the background
  • Right before turning out the light for the night

Think about what you want to get out of your journaling practice, how you want to feel when you journal, and realistically when you are likely to have the time and energy.

If you have a planner or calendar, maybe try scheduling in some journaling time for yourself over the next week.

And if you think you don’t really have the time to journal, I urge you to reconsider.